Saturday, July 3, 2010

Memory: My favorite word, perseveration

I just like the way the word perseverates feels on my tongue. Plus, it throws a curve ball to many people because they have never heard of the word. That said, perseveration is a frustrating trait to deal with in the classroom or in life, but what is is exactly.

If you think about the word "persevere", in general, that is a positive trait especially in the face of adversity. However, to perseverate is seen fairly negatively even though it also means persevere. Usually I describe it as "stuck in a groove". For those people who understand playing records with, once a needle gets stuck in a groove, you hear the same thing over and over and over. Generally, there is some neurological problem in the brain which causes people to perseverate. People with brain injuries, autism, and schizophrenia can perseverate.

If you do not understand what is going on, perseveration can be very annoying. Actually, even if you do understand, it can still be annoying. It takes patience to tolerate the repetition. You start motioning with your hands and thinking, "OK, get on with it already." One way I deal with this is to imagine how frustrating it is to be that other person. She/he has something to say, but cannot get beyond the first thought. Cannot communicate clearly. As the perseveration continues, they don't let others speak and so hog the conversation with... nothing really because their speech does not take them anywhere. This is frustrating to both speaker and listener.

What to do? When you can get a word in edgewise, you can do one of two things. Either repeat what they have said and ask "what comes next?" With the record, you have to lift the needle and carefully drop it onto the next track

or redirect the conversation to a different topic. The latter can be difficult though because the perseverator may take you back to the original topic. Once stuck it is hard to become unstuck and eventually the only thing to do is to choose a new record to play.

My source for this blog recommends simple, routine jobs that are easy to learn. I am not sure that I totally agree with this. Often people with neurological problems often are surprisingly intelligent and simple jobs can be boring and unfulfilling. That said, for perseveraters who love structure and repetition, there are many jobs which may be boring for most, that may provide a calming hum.

Requires job setting which is flexible and allows extended practice.
Simulate job away from site before going to job

Arrange for client/student to practice after hours

Decrease the number of tasks

Color code steps to follow

Place in occupational job training

If you want to learn more, visit these sites.

Project Learnet: Perseveration

Special needs education: Strategies for students who perseverate

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Learning Strategy: Motivation from using affirmations

Several years ago, I signed up for one of these internet services where they send you a motivational quote of the day. My ulterior motive was to collect good writing prompts for my GED students, but I have found the affirmations to be useful for many other things. Besides using them as prompts, I have found them personally rewarding. They also have helped me to connect with other quotation lovers (I didn't know there were so many out there) and to share strategies with other teachers.

Today's quote was:
If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the sea.
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Too often teachers, who love details and words and literature and school, forget that the students often do not share that love. Their lives and homes are fragmented without a true connection to education. Although they WANT an education, they don't have access to it. They really need help in developing the love of learning because once they love learning, nothing will stop them.

Many come to school understanding the concept that education is good, that education will fill a gap in their lives. But they haven't learned that learning is work: hard work. Unfortunately, most students believe that all they need to do is come in and sit in a chair, look at the teacher, and push a pencil. Few students come in each day with "What will I learn today?" on their minds and "How will I know if I learned anything?". So how do we take students who have become passive and show them that learning is an active sport.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

New habits: How to keep up

Sometimes it is hard to establish new habits. Well, it is hard to establish new habits that you would like to have. For example, I am having difficulty remembering to write on my blog. Ahhhhhh!!!!

But what can I do about it? Strategize!

First, I was going to follow my set of CAMS (compensations, accommodations and modifications list) I figured that if I followed that, then I would have material for at least half a year if I posted every day. But can I remember to post??? No, too boring.

So I modified my plan. For many years, I have been thinking that I would simply post every day and write about one thing that happened. Well, that didn't work. It sat on the back burner, and then it did work here. Once. Also, when I am in my car, I do sometimes start thinking about what to post. I guess that is a small move in the right direction.

Why am I going on and on about nothing? Well this is a blog after all (just a little humor, haha). Pedagogically, this would be called a Think Aloud. Not the joke, but the way I am thinking and writing down what I am thinking.

To use strategies takes TIME and LEARNING and HABIT forming. You have to be like a little terrier. Attack the problem. Work at it from one angle and if that doesn't work, try another angle. And another until it works.

Sounds kind of weak, but that is what you have to do. Pick the few important areas you want to work on and then fight.

Just by the way, this morning I thought that maybe I will try using my planner to remind me to blog. Not sure how though. Maybe I will write B in it every time I blog. If I just write "remember to blog" I am afraid that the phrase will just disappear into the page. Yes. I think I will mark a B on my page when I blog. Let me do it right now.

If I blog again tomorrow, then you will know that it worked. .... For now.

Now another new idea has come into my head. Maybe I should come up with a designation plan such as Monday will be from my CAMS list, Tuesday something I learned today, Wednesday... fix up an old blog. (It would be good to have pictures or links in the blogs), Thursday... ??? I will have to think about that, Friday could be a day where I am free to post or not to post. That leaves two days where I would need a theme. Not bad for a start. Anyone got ideas???

My problem is that I have too many ideas and they all get mixed up and don't go anywhere. I just thought that maybe Thursday would be my parking lot. More tomorrow.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Reading: a big issue

Although many people take to books easily, reading is a very complicated task. There are many many reasons why someone would have trouble with reading. It could be an attentional issue, decoding, vocabulary, comprehension, fluency or all of the above.

One of the keys to combating a reading problem is to first really understand which piece of the puzzle to tackle first. NIFL (National Institute for Literacy) has valuable information on this subject.

For example, Strategies and Reading Profiles (ASRP). While there, you can learn about the components of reading or watch videos on how to give tests. Also, there are downloads available for free tests. Finally, you can match your test scores to reading profiles and get instructional strategies.

If this is not enough, then you can access other resources. Bon Apetit.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Emotional issues:cutters

Early in my teaching career, I was teaching how to draw circles using a compass. As I dutifully went around to help each student, one had found an inventive way to retool the instrument. He was happily??? don't know if that is the correct word exactly, carving his name into his arm. He was truly puzzled when I sent him to the counselor.

I know wikipedia is not the best source of information, but it says, "These functions include self-harm being used as a coping mechanism which provides temporary relief of intense feelings such as anxiety, depression, stress, emotional numbness and a sense of failure or self-loathing. " It was astounding to me that a 12 year old rich kid could be dealing with all or some of these things.

Currently there is a general lack of confidence about a "cure." Maybe treating underlying depression or anxiety may work.

Vocational Impact
Must wear long sleeves to cover the scars.
I imagine that high stress jobs would not be a good match for most of these people if it brings on the need to cut. On the other hand, maybe some would like the high energy. If you know more, please comment on this post.

I was just thinking that the tattoo and piercing industry would benefit. Instead of being branded as a cutter, you might be able to use the services of the tattoo/piercing industry to do the work for you. Just thinking.

Throughout the ages, most peoples have rituals where they harm themselves in an effort to be closer to the truth. Fasts and self-flagellation are just two. I guess the question is culturally sanctioned or deviant self-mutilation.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Makes frequent errors

Frequent errors can be caused by many things. Lack of attention can lead to mistakes. For example, 2+ 2 = "oh look at that bird flying to the tree! I wonder what it has in its beak." = 1 It has one thing in its beak.

Another reason people make mistakes is due to rushing. This often happens to people who are slow at doing work. Because they are slow, teachers, parents, friends are always telling them to get a move on. So they do.
2 + 2 = 1+ 1 = 4 1 + 3 = 2

In the rush to get finished, small errors creep in, or rush in. As seen above, the first question didn't get answered... oh yes it did, but on the wrong problem which then triggered an avalanche of errors. How FRUSTRATING!!!!!!!

Vocational /Educational Impact
On the job, how annoying is it to have a co-worker who is always messing up. It slows everyone down. Someone has to be always watching what that person has done. It brings the whole team down.

Frequent errors can especially cause difficulty with jobs requiring speed or accuracy--clerical, accounting, quality control. Fast food places and banks are very sensitive to errors. This is also frustrating. Many of my students say, "I couldn't even manage a job like at McDonalds." But fast food is fast, and that is not a place for people who make frequent errors.

Does not do well in piece rate jobs, timed tests. Tests are terrible for error makers. What is even more frustrating is that you complete a test and feel good. You knew most of the answers. BUT... you didn't answer the questions correctly. This often results in loss of job or no promotions. Plus a complete lack of faith in yourself and the educational system.

Problems on jobs where your performance affects others --assembly line- group projects

Creates frustrations on-the job for self, employer, co0worker

Feeds poor self-esteem, job satisfaction, performance and opportunities for advancement.

Complete frequent performance checks by supervisor, peer or teacher. Break things into small parts and build in a monitoring system. Don't go to the next step until you are sure that the first step is accurate. Although this will slow you down a lot at first, in the end you will make progress because you will have fewer errors.

Teach self-check method (e.g. have a step-by-step checklist, ask student to check for errors.) Learn to be a good checker. OK. How am I going to know if I have done a great job. Many students rely on teachers to find out if they have done a good job. A good student will have the skill to assess their own performance. On Bloom's Taxonomy, this is the highest level skill.

Many many things have been learned through mistakes. The trick is to be cognizant when making mistakes. Mistakes are an opportunity to learn.

Penicillin, a mainstay in modern medicine, was found to be effective when a plate of culture was contaminated by blue mold.

Post-It notes also were the result of a misconception. The researcher was trying to develop a really strong glue and instead found a really weak glue. It took some time before someone realized how valuable a really weak glue can be.

Oh, and don't forget Christopher Columbus. He tried to find India. Instead he bumped into a large land mass now called North America. He named the natives, "Indians." And some people celebrate a day for him. No one seems to remember that he really really messed up.